Gaius Avidius Nigrinus

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Gaius Avidius Nigrinus (died 118) was a Roman who lived between the 1st and 2nd centuries.

Nigrinus’ ancestors were Romans of the highest political rank: he was the son of an elder Gaius Avidius Nigrinus, his brother was the consul Titus Avidius Quietus and his uncle was the consul Tiberius Avidius Quietus. Nigrinus’ family was wealthy, distinguished and well-connected politically in Faventia (modern Faenza, Italy), where he was born and raised. Nigrinus and his family may have been related to Gaius Petronius Pontius Nigrinus, who was consul in the year 37.

His family had strong links to Greece. The father of Nigrinus had served at an unknown date during the reign of Roman Emperor Domitian (81-96) as Proconsul of Achaea, as had his paternal uncle. His family was friendly with the Roman Senator Pliny the Younger and the Greek Historian Plutarch, who dedicated ‘On Brotherly Love’ to the elder Nigrinus and Quietus.

Nigrinus was a longstanding friend of the Roman Emperor Trajan and his family. He served Trajan as Tribune in 105. Nigrinus served as Legatus of Achaea and probably participated in Trajan’s attempt to recognize and stabilize the administration of the financially troubled province. Nigrinus later became the Roman Governor of Greece.

In 110, Nigrinus served as suffect consul. During the year of his consulship, Trajan sent Nigrinus to Delphi, Greece as a member of an advisory council to assist the politician, later Greek historian Arrian in settling boundary disputes. This event is recorded in Delphi, where there are honorific inscriptions dedicated to Nigrinus in Greek and Latin.

Nigrinus was a trusted lieutenant of Trajan. Trajan appointed him as a Roman Governor of Dacia. Nigrinus commanded considerable political respect, for he was a leading military general and could have been seen as a possible heir of Trajan's.

In 117, Trajan died and he was succeeded by his paternal second cousin Hadrian. In the summer of 118, the Roman Senate ordered the execution of Nigrinus, on the grounds that he had been one of four senators involved in a plot to overthrow Hadrian. Nigrinus was probably involved in the plot because of differences with Hadrian’s imperial policy.[citation needed] It is also possible that Hadrian could have viewed Nigrinus as a potential threat, given his previous high standing and close relationship with Trajan.[citation needed]

Nigrinus in his life married an unattested Roman noble woman called Ignota Plautia. He had at least one known child, a daughter called Avidia Plautia. Plautia would marry Hadrian’s first adopted heir Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, and thus Nigrinus would become the grandfather of the Roman Emperor Lucius Verus, prince Gaius Avidius Ceionius Commodus, princesses Ceionia Fabia and Ceionia Plautia.

Nerva–Antonine family tree[edit]

  • (1) = 1st spouse
  • (2) = 2nd spouse (not shown)
  • (3) = 3rd spouse
  • Darker purple indicates Emperor of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty; lighter purple indicates designated imperial heir of said dynasty who never reigned
  • dashed lines indicate adoption; dotted lines indicate love affairs/unmarried relationships
  • small caps = posthumously deified (Augusti, Augustae, or other)

Q. Marcius Barea Soranus Q. Marcius Barea Sura Antonia Furnilla M. Cocceius Nerva Sergia Plautilla P. Aelius Hadrianus
(r. 79-81)
Marcia Furnilla Marcia Trajanus Pater Nerva
(r. 96–98)
Ulpia Aelius Hadrianus Marullinus
Julia Flavia Marciana C. Salonius Matidius Trajan
(r. 98–117)
Plotina P. Acilius Attianus P. Aelius Afer Paulina Major L. Julius Ursus Servianus
Lucius Mindius
Libo Rupilius Frugi
Matidia L. Vibius Sabinus
Antinous Hadrian (r. 117–138) Paulina
Matidia Minor Suetonius Sabina
Annius Verus
C. Fuscus Salinator I Julia Serviana Paulina
Rupilia Faustina Boionia Procilla Cn. Arrius Antoninus
L. Caesennius Paetus L. Ceionius Commodus Appia Severa C. Fuscus Salinator II
Arria Antonia Arria Fadilla T. Aurelius Fulvus
L. Caesennius Antoninus Lucius
Fundania Plautia Ignota Plautia C. Avidius
Antoninus Pius
(r. 138–161)
M. Annius Verus Domitia Lucilla Fundania M. Annius Libo FAUSTINA Lucius Aelius
Avidia Plautia
(r. 161–180)
FAUSTINA Minor C. Avidius Cassius Aurelia Fadilla LUCIUS VERUS
(r. 161–169)
Ceionia Fabia Plautius Quintillus Q. Servilius Pudens Ceionia Plautia
Cornificia Minor M. Petronius Sura COMMODUS
(r. 177–192)
Fadilla M. Annius Verus Caesar Ti. Claudius Pompeianus (2) Lucilla M. Plautius Quintillus Junius Licinius Balbus Servilia Ceionia
Petronius Antoninus L. Aurelius Agaclytus
Aurelia Sabina L. Antistius Burrus
Plautius Quintillus Plautia Servilla C. Furius Sabinus Timesitheus Antonia Gordiana Junius Licinius Balbus
Furia Sabina Tranquillina GORDIAN III
(r. 238-244)